Category Archives: Letters To The Editor

Terrific Tiree

I got back from Tiree yesterday and wanted to tell you how much I absolutely loved it.

I’ve been to many of the Hebridean islands but Tiree is without doubt one of the most beautiful and friendliest. It has everything you hope an island to be in Scotland, many stunning beaches – all magical in their own way, swathes of the most beautiful wild flowers and the excitement of watching kite surfers, wind surfers, kayakers and others who connect with the sea in a most exhilarating way.

I can’t do water sports because I have a physical disability, but I came away from Edinburgh (where I live) to read, write, seek some sort of solace and meet interesting people on the way! What I didn’t expect was how I managed to get to do some of these things. I hitched!

I have never hitched in my life before despite being told it’s fine to do so on Tiree. On the day, hardworking ‘Dial-A-Bus’ Nancy did her tour, I had no choice but to do so! Every car with spare space picked me up. I met Andrew who took me around much of the island to ‘Blue Beyond’ a stunning gallery of pictures and pottery, locals from Hynish and Vaul Bay and some couples and families enjoying their summer holiday on the way. Some of the folk staying at the hostel (including film Director Paulo) and David (owner of Millhouse hostel) took me around the island too stopping by Tiree Pottery where I managed to pick up a few unique and beautiful items.

All these people had a ‘story’ and for each person I took away a ‘part of them’ to cherish forever. Tiree is without doubt my favourite holiday destination thus far and I’d like to thank everyone on Tiree for making it so, especially David.

Setting The Record Straight

letters to editor

In response to the article in the Oban Times on Thursday 7th May, which suggested that Hugh Fernley Whittingstall had applied for a council grant for this year’s TMF, Stewart MacLennan and myself just wanted to address the inaccuracies in this article.

Stewart MacLennan, Director of Operations at Tiree Music Festival (TMF):

“The Argyll and Bute grant was applied for to help with logistical costs for Argyll Foods (eg Loch Fyne Oysters) and also to support the local efforts to deliver Tiree produce at the festival, through Beachcomber, a Tiree business. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall generously agreed to help us promote the festival – entirely out of his own goodwill and desire to help. It is the Year of Food and Drink Scotland and by approving part of the funding application, Argyll and Bute council have recognised the importance of bringing a local flavour to the festival, in turn supporting food producers, crofters and fishermen in the region.”

With his passion for local produce, and for Tiree, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall introduced me to his River Cottage star graduate chef Sam Lomas, and together with Hugh we are planning a tasty menu around what is available on the island, and in season at this year’s TMF. Our “pop-up”, (which, with Hugh’s blessing, will be called River Cottage @ the Beachcomber) will bring festival goers the very best produce from our own Tiree fishermen and crofter’s. Hugh has been very generous with his time and knowledge and I am hugely grateful for his support. Sadly his summer filming commitments mean he won’t be able to join us at TMF this year. Any assumption from the Oban Times article, that Hugh or River Cottage are profiting financially from this venture, or from council funding, is entirely wrong.

If you are selling Tiree fish, shellfish, potatoes, eggs and/or meat this summer please let me know as I am always looking for suppliers. or 01879 220590

Loch a Phuill and Loch Bhasapol Fishing

letters to editor

Many’s the time I have fished these waters with my companions, catching trout on barbless hooks and returning them to the water, drinking tea and putting the world to right, and spotting the odd otter with a bit luck. But that was a few years ago.

Being a former secretary of the Tiree Angling Club I feel that you and your readers should know the position of fishing in these waters now. Several years ago the Club had the lease of the waters from Argyll Estates but one year the Estate refused to renew the lease but in fairness to them they still allowed members of the Club to fish the waters albeit each member had to purchase a permit from them.

This year one of our members applied for a permit and was told by Argyll Estates that no permits were being issued and he would no longer be allowed to fish on the waters. On pursuing this matter I have since found out that six permits will be made available for local residents so Argyll Estates are still not saying that you cannot fish they are just making it a bit more difficult to do so. Permits last year cost £90 but this year a permit will cost £200 with restrictions in as much as a permit holder will only be allowed to fish ten times.

I think it is incredible that in this day and age Argyll Estates can ride roughshod over individuals living on the island and increase the cost of a fishing permit by over 100% and stipulate the number of times they may use it. One would wonders if they are trying to keep local residents from fishing the waters by their pricing and rules policy and that they may have more lucrative rods to fish the waters and local rods would just be a nuisance.

I would be interested to hear view points from other An Tirisdeach readers on this matter.

Bill Campbell

Price Change Commentary


The price of An Tirisdeach increased with the last edition. Many of you have shared your views on these changes but requested not to be named. Your comments have been passed to the Directors allowing an opportunity to reply

An Tirisdeach hopes to provide a response in the next edition.


Cost Increase

As the paper cost has increased why is An Tirisdeach not in colour?

It is difficult to see who are in the pictures when they are in black and white.

Why was the increase not enough to make sure it was in colour?

It’s a community paper, so why can’t the Community have An Tirisdeach in colour unless we take out an annual online subscription?

I buy An Tirisdeach in the co-op, there’s no postage costs, why can’t I have it in colour?

I used to enjoy the RSPB article when it was in colour, the black and white pictures are drab.

Online Subscription

I love having my online An Tirisdeach without leaving the house.

I am enjoying reading my online An Tirisdeach with a cup of coffee and it’s in colour.

I don’t want to have An Tirisdeach online, I like to pick it up and read it a wee bit at a time.

We read An Tirisdeach and pass it around the family. We encourage the children to discuss topical issues, we can’t do that with an online subscription.

I don’t want the newsletter online, I want to read An Tirisdeach with a cup of tea.

I don’t have the Internet.

A harrowing escape

I was clearing out my old emails and I’m embarrassed to admit I have overlooked this
editor’s letter.
I thought you may like to read about the reader’s frightening experience and relief to
have been rescued by local men.

I would be pleased if you could send out a heartfelt thank you to two amazing people, Adam Milne from Beachcomber and Suds from the surf school.

Saturday 9th August 2014, my boys aged 16 and 10, wanted to go wave jumping in Balevullin beach, the waves looked great and the water crystal clear. We picked a spot in the middle of the beach and jumped in and over the waves, within a few minutes I noticed that we had drifted a great deal to the left of the beach and were heading rapidly towards the rocks. My husband on the shore, called for us to swim back up the beach. I took hold of my youngest and propelled him sideward and my husband swam out and helped both boys ashore.

Unfortunately, I was not managing to make any progress and was just swimming with all my energy and getting nowhere. My husband raised the alarm on his way to shore with the boys and Adam Milne tried to rescue me but very soon we were both stuck and being pulled towards the rocks. I was also panicking by this point and my head kept plunging underwater. My husband swam back out to us both with a boogie board and we gratefully grabbed it and all 3 started swimming for shore.

Meanwhile, Suds headed out toward us on a surf board grabbed me on board and headed across the water and out on a wave. I came in to hugs from my boys and my dog. Suds explained that the place I had been pulled to was one of 2 rip currents that appear on the beach at high tide.

I have grown up next to the coast and lived near the sea all my life but was unaware of how to react in a rip current. Rip currents can move up to 8 feet per second, faster than any person can swim! They are caused by a break in the sand bank. I was unaware how to get myself out and was becoming panicked and exhausted. I would be pleased if you could tell my story to raise awareness of how to react in a rip current, and send my thanks to two people who came to help me and saved me from going under.

Thank you! – Allison Leslie

For those that are interested in learning more, here are a couple of links that explain rip currents and how to escape them:

On Gaelic as (non)trivia

Hello a chairdean,

I am sure it was not intended in this way but the signposting of Gaelic as ‘trivia’ in the Tirisdeach is sending out a very poor message indeed, especially on an island that essentially exists in a Gaelic isolation as the last cornerstone of the language in Argyll.

I would have thought a swift response in both languages would be appropriate.

Le meas MA

Mary Ann Kennedy


Dear Editor

I am very sorry that I should have to write to you in these terms. As a native of Tiree, and also a prime mover in the establishing of Bord na Gaidhlig and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act of 2005, I feel particularly strongly about your unfortunate ‘error of judgement’. It reflects, potentially and by implication, on myself and others who have done our utmost to maintain the Gaelic language across the years and in very difficult circumstances.

May I suggest, please, that the Tiree Development Trust and ‘An Tirisdeach’ should consider the newsletter’s editorial policy on Gaelic as a matter of some urgency? Might you even think of providing a paragraph of Gaelic in every newsletter, for the benefit of those who are trying to learn the language, as well as for the benefit of the island’s Gaelic speakers?

I would suggest too that it is a little unwise to entitle a page of this newsletter ‘Tiree Trivia’, whatever the language. Sooner or later, the validity of the title, relative to a particular item, will be disputed by someone. What is ‘trivial’ to one person may not be ‘trivial’ to another!

On a happier note, may I say how much I appreciate the brighter and better format of ‘An Tirisdeach’? That aspect of the newsletter has improved immeasurably, compared with its drab format a year (or less) ago. Well done!

Professor Donald Meek

Dear Mary Ann & Professor Meek

When the Trust approached An Tirisdeach to have a regular Gaelic saying featured in An Tirisdeach, it was embraced wholeheartedly. The suggestion of placing the article on the Tiree Trivia Page was in no way intended to upset or demean the Gaelic Language and speakers.

The situation of the phrase was chosen as An Tirisdeach is aware that many readers enjoy this page and considered it somewhere to showcase the language so many are trying to preserve with the intention that it may encourage more readers to try learning something new in a fun way.

Two actions have been taken as a result of the above articles,

1. The Trivia Page has been re-named “Fun Puzzle Page”

2. The Gaelic Phrase will be situated somewhere else in An Tirisdeach

Please accept my sincere apologies for the obvious upset this has caused not only to you but many others in the Gaelic speaking community. Regretfully I cannot reply in Gaelic as although I would like to, I do not speak the language..

Lyn Bryce, Editor

Children’s Behaviour

As an “incomer” to Tiree I haven’t grown up with the ways of the isle and as such I notice things locals take for granted.

On the mainland I worked as a lollipop lady and spent quite a bit of time with children of 6 to 11 and their younger siblings. During this job the children generally fell into three categories:

1. Those that were wonderfully behaved and always said thank you

2. Those easily distracted but well behaved

3. Those who were, shall we say, less than polite.

Today I was at the Tiree High School Gala Day helping my husband man the ice cream stall. May I congratulate all on Tiree for their excellent manners! Not a single type 3 child was seen by myself and I have a new category “Those who are so shy that they whisper in a crowded hall”

The Gala day was wonderful and I am extremely happy to live in such a wonderful community.


Jacqui Bennett

Response to Colville Laird Letter (issue 579)


At present we don’t know what difference it will make.

Tiree Broadband is delighted that Marine Scotland gave BT a licence to lay fibre optic cable to the island, but as reported to the recent Trust AGM, BT has not yet decided how they will deliver the service beyond the tower in Scarinish, even to their own Broadband customers. They are still developing the technology and there are various options being considered.

Tiree Community Broadband is actively lobbying BT to try to ensure that they deliver a level of service that will benefit the whole island. There are likely to be some areas of Tiree beyond the reach of the new fibre services.

Tiree Broadband plans to continue serving those who would be otherwise disadvantaged by this failure in the telecoms market. We should be in a position to offer faster services to our customers due to the improvements in internet back haul that fibre connectivity brings. Exactly what Tiree Broadband can deliver and where depends on the decisions that BT makes about its fibre rollout on Tiree.

In the meantime we will continue to deliver the best service that we can to our subscribers given the financial and infrastructure constraints upon us.

Tiree Broadband Committee

To the Editor – response to Karl & Lorna Hughes letter

letter to the editorWe have a great deal of sympathy with the difficulties experienced by the Hughes in getting ferry spaces at short notice during our busy summer period. This is not unique to Tiree and it is something we hear from other parts of our network.

Unfortunately reconciling the rival demands of islanders who often need to travel at short notice, with those of tourists who like to book well in advance is a challenge. Our contract with Scottish Government requires that bookings are taken on a first come, first serve basis and setting aside ‘islander-only’ spaces is far harder to manage than one might expect. For example how do we decide within an island community who should have priority, and if the spaces are not required, how and when do we decide to release them to open sale?

We are currently investing in a new online booking and ticketing system that will address some of the imperfections in our systems and that will be phased in towards the end of next year, although it will not address the fundamental issue that the Summer is our busiest time of year and many sailings will have been booked up well in advance .

We would encourage people who do not have to travel at the busy times, such as weekends, to consider travelling at other times and, during busy periods, it would also help everyone if customers advised us as timeously as possible of changed plans and cancellations to maximise what space we do have on the most popular sailings.

We would totally reject any claim that islanders are being treated as second class citizens, but sadly there is no quick fix to this perennial conundrum.

Letter To The Editor

letter to the editorThe photographs from Nàdair Thiriodh of Crossapol taken in December and again in March (An Tirisdeach 566) are a timely reminder of how vulnerable the machair dunes are to extreme weather conditions. The most damaging of the winter’s storms on 3 January 2014 was caused when low pressure drew in very strong winds and a tidal surge of about a metre on top of the high spring tides. These are the very same conditions that caused the lethal floods in East Anglia in 1953.

Walking the beaches the day after the January storm was a sobering experience. Ten years ago, when I was studying oceanography and climate change for an OU degree, the forecast was that such events could be expected once every 200 years. More recently it has come to be understood that higher ocean temperatures will cause storms to be more powerful and more frequent. We have seen what that will be like this winter. If we care about the machair we must also care about climate change. It is right that we should ask Argyll & Bute and the Scottish Executive what they are doing to protect the machair. In return they could reasonably point to their ambitious renewables strategies as contributions to achieving a low carbon economy.

We have seen the formidable spin machine of No Tiree Array in action in recent weeks as they stamp on any sign of opposition. Tiree has much to fear from climate change and how we respond to the challenge of renewable energy is much too important to be left to a single issue pressure group that feels no obligation to listen to the community or to consider the wider context of what they campaign for.

The Argyll Array may have gone away for now, but there will be other renewable opportunities for Tiree such as a re-engineered array, wave generation or building on the success of Tilley with an ambitious community owned project. It is time to hear from others in the community. For example, is it the settled will of the majority on Tiree to refuse to play any further part in implementing the Scottish Executive’s renewables strategy? If we are unwilling to make our own contribution to this strategy, what right have we to ask others to help protect our machair?

It is to be hoped that the new community council will be an opportunity for a more democratic discussion of issues in which single interest groups are not the only voices heard.

Bill Welstead, Taigh Allamsa, Baugh

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